Local Election

They are running for Whatcom County Council District 4. Here’s what you need to know

Kathy Kershner and Brian Estes are running for the open Whatcom County Council District 4, a new region that’s mostly been represented by Barbara Brenner since she was elected in 1991.

Brenner isn’t running for re-election after nearly three decades on the council.

Kershner, a former county council member, received 68% of the vote in the Aug. 6 primary. Estes had 18%.

District 4 covers north-central Whatcom County east of Ferndale and Blaine, including a part of north Bellingham and the cities of Lynden, Everson, Nooksack and Sumas.

Voters approved ballot measures in 2016 that changed districts starting in 2017 that created five districts with one representative elected from each district and two at-large positions elected by voters countywide.

The non-partisan, part-time position pays $31,867 annually during the four-year term. That rate rises to $35,802 in 2020 and $40,180 in 2021, according to the Whatcom County Salary Commission.

General election ballots will be mailed Oct. 18. Ballots don’t need a stamp but must be postmarked by Election Day. Ballot drop boxes open Oct. 18 and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5.

These are the candidates for the District 4 Whatcom County Council position:

Brian Estes

Estes, 66, is a real estate broker with RSVP Real Estate.

Bio: Estes is married with three grown children. He worked for the Government Accountability Office, the auditing watchdog on Congress, for 30 years and at the King County Auditor’s Office for six years, evaluating government programs for efficiency and effectiveness. He volunteers as a legislative advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Whatcom County, and is a member of the Arc of Whatcom County. He holds a master’s in Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA.

Neighborhood: Cordata area of Bellingham.

Funds raised: $6,762 plus a $6,000 loan from himself as of Sept. 27, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Funds spent: $10,631.

Largest contributors: Estes contributed $982 to his own campaign.

An issue of personal interest to him: “I have had experience in my own family with behavioral health, mental health issues. I know what’s it like when somebody needs immediate psychiatric care,” Estes said. A lack of mental and behavioral health care is something he has experienced in his own family, he said, and believes that access to these services shouldn’t take weeks because there is a lack of providers offering immediate treatment.

What trait makes him uniquely suited for this position: “I have a lot of experience evaluating government programs,” Estes said. “My job was to advance the narrative in terms of improving programs on a variety of issues.” Estes said his time working for GAO will help him make the government “work better for everyone, from the federal level on down to our local communities.”

Endorsements: Whatcom Democrats; 42nd Legislative District Democrats; Washington Conservation Voters; state Rep. Sharon Shewmake, D-Bellingham; and Whatcom County council members Carol Frazey and Satpal Sidhu.

Website: Vote Brian Estes on Facebook.

Kathy Kershner

Kershner, 54, is a self-employed quality assurance evaluator for programs serving adults with developmental disabilities through her business Advocations.

Bio: She is married with two grown children, a teenage son at home, and two grandchildren. She retired from the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant after 22 years, rising from enlisted ranks to officer as an anti-submarine warfare specialist and operations officer. She earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Hawaii and is a small business owner and an advocate for people with developmental disabilities. She was elected to the Whatcom County Council in 2009, serving until 2013. She served as the County Council chair, Flood Control District Board of Supervisors chair, Board of Health chair, and North Sound Mental Health Advisory board chair. She also served on the Council Finance Committee, Whatcom Council of Governments, Airport Advisory Committee, and Election Canvassing Board. Kershner is a member of the VFW Auxiliary, Daughters of the American Revolution, and participates with Lynden Youth Sports. She is also chair of the Whatcom Republicans.

Neighborhood: Lynden.

Funds raised: $31,757.95 as of Sept. 24, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Funds spent: $15,079.

Largest contributors: Troy Muljat contributed $2,000. Whatcom Affordable Housing Council, Phillips 66 in Houston, Z Recyclers in Lynden each donated $1,000.

An issue of personal interest to her: “People with disabilities often rely on motorized wheelchairs or scooters to meet their mobility needs,” Kershner said, “and they cannot access all areas of recreation in Whatcom County because county codes currently prohibit the use of their motorized mobility aids in some of our forests.” Kershner wants people of all abilities to have the same opportunities to recreate in Whatcom County even if they require a motorized scooter or wheelchair to do so.

What trait makes her uniquely suited for this position: Kershner previously served on the County Council from 2010-2014, and was elected by her peers to lead the Council as chair. She said this experience makes her uniquely qualified to serve as well as her various leadership roles serving our community. She also said that she has always found herself drawn to leadership positions in the organizations she has been involved in including the U.S. Navy, which she retired from as a Commissioned Officer, and running her own business for the last fifteen years.

.Endorsements: Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis, Everson Mayor John Perry, Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen, Blaine Mayor Bonnie Onyon, Ferndale Mayor Jon Mutchler, Nooksack Mayor Jim Ackerman, Whatcom County Fire District 7 Firefighters, Whatcom County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild, and the Whatcom County Republican Party.

Website: Vote Kathy Kershner on Facebook.

Contributors and contribution totals for Brian Estes were corrected Sept. 27, 2019.

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Warren Sterling in a graduate of Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. He interned at Politifact.com before joining The Bellingham Herald as a summer 2019 intern.
Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.